Artist’s Statement —Ralph E. Calhoun
I began drawing as a small child. My aunt framed a little drawing of Cowboys and Indians and hung it in the room where we ate. The drawing was still there years later when the house was torn down long after I had moved away. The recognition and encouragement from my family and others made me the artist that I am. I take a sketch book with me most all the time, especially when I travel. My sketch books serve as source books for art work that I do today. That room we ate in had high, horizontal windows and I used to sit and watch the pecan trees outside move and change shape. Today I make collages of trees and forests and like the windows in that room, only a part or slice of the trees or forest is the major subject. Since retiring as a graphic artist, I continue to do drawing, painting and constructions of found objects.
Besides collage I work often with pastel. Pastel is like drawing with color and pastel drawings are easy to transport when I travel. Most pastels are done on site. In my collages I use a variety of materials like papers, rice paper for atmosphere, natural materials, acrylic paint and acrylic polymer as the binder and final varnish. I have been making these collages for years which I began in a graduate course at UNCG. I use many different effects to achieve a satisfying picture. I tear paper for a rough edge and cut for a smooth edge. Collages like I do are time consuming projects. There is much detail which requires patience and I am a patient worker. Besides representing nature the collages have as exceptional tactical quality. People want to touch the surface. I am not only interested in the positive shapes that I make or draw but in the spaces, the negative shapes, as well. I may work from a particular subject, use my sketch book or use my imagination to create the trees in my collages. Because of my training and practice my observation of things goes well beyond others.
I am entering my eighties which is somewhat amazing to me. I continue to create art work. All of my past experiences contribute to what I do. The desire and need to create is still very strong and keeps me working constantly.
Ralph E. Calhoun